Power Dynamics in Relationships
There is a reason why you experience the same problems in your relationships over and over again—even if it's with a different person.
Knowing and understanding unhealthy power dynamics where there's imbalanced power will help you put a stop to conflict and in your intimate relationship!
You will finally understand "why," and "how," you compete for power and have conflict in your relationship. Best of all, you can move from an unhealthy relationship to relationship power!
“Humbleness, forgiveness, clarity and love are the dynamics of freedom. They are the foundations of authentic power.”
Understanding power—all conflict is a competition for power, however, not all competition for power results in conflict.
You and your partner may compete for power and you don't even know it; it silently (and habitually) operates in the the background. For instance, you know your partner will get angry if you ask too many questions about his day as soon as he arrives home from work.
To keep the peace, you remain quiet. You know you need to wait until your partner has had time to watch the news and have something to eat before you approach him. In this instance, the fear of an "outburst" is an unhealthy power dynamic that affects your relationship and how you interact with your partner. The partner holds power over you in this situation.
What's Your Story?
Are you in a relationship with a partner who emotionally withdraws for days and you take it personally? Are you fed up of your partner "nagging" you to do something and you just want them to shut up and go away?
The two scenarios above are examples of "stories" that you may be telling yourself about your partner. What stories are you telling yourself about your partner?
How do you see your partner?
Is your partner courageous?
Are they strong and attractive?
Do you think you're "not good enough" and believe you deserve to be treated a certain way by your intimate partner?
Maybe you think your partner doesn't care about you because they do not support you when you ask them to do the chores?
It is all a story.
They are thoughts that influence your patterns of behavior in relationships, including how you manage your boundaries, and the power dynamics in your relationships.
Unbeknown to you, your power patterns were established in early childhood and influence the power dynamics in your (now adult) intimate relationships. For instance, if you were a "caretaker" as a child and were rewarded for helping and supporting a sick parent, you learned to gain power by helping and caring for others. In this instance, helping others controls the power dynamics in your intimate relationships and how you compete for (and obtain) power.
Power dynamics influence your behavior, decisions, choices, your choice of partner/s, and ultimately, your relationships.
When you know the power dynamics and dominant power archetypes in your relationship, you become aware of the decisions and choices you make; you become the master navigator or your life and relationships!
Every second, of every minute of every day, you have power. Yes, as cliché as this sounds, the power is within.
You have the power to have the thoughts you think or don't think, the choices you make or don't make, the emotions you feel or don't feel, and the words you say or don't say. You therefore have the power to choose how you interact and respond to your partner.
Every interaction you have, whether it is with a family member, your partner, the person at the checkout, or a colleague at work, involves an exchange of power. Every thought you have about that person involves power; it either empowers or disempowers you. Every action you take and decision you make involves power; you either feel empowered or disempowered by your action and decision.
When it comes to your intimate relationship, the same applies. With every interaction, you calculate if your partner has more power than you, and if you will be empowered or disempowered in this interaction. You exchange power in every interaction and action in your life. Power is a currency you use to your advantage to either empower or disempower your partner.
When you hear the word "power," how does it make you feel?
Do you believe power is something that is used to control others and you therefore view it negatively? Or do you see it as something positive where you can get things done to support your partner and the relationship? Knowing your power, and that of your partner, requires learning.
Relationships involve "both" of you in the marriage or relationship to understand why you fight so you can "both" feel mutually loved.
Your relationship with power influences the way you manage boundaries in your relationship. For instance, if you see or think of the word "power" as something that is negative, you may feel uncomfortable saying, "no" to your partner and putting boundaries in place. To set boundaries in your relationship is about taking responsibility to create power balance in your relationship.
When you don't have boundaries, you put the needs and wishes of your partner above your own, and often to the detriment of your own emotional well-being.
On the other hand, you may have "rigid" boundaries and are very clear to your partner and your expectations. But are you so inflexible, you ignore the needs of your partner and dismiss their concerns?
Culturally, you may have been conditioned to "ignore" your boundaries and put the needs of others before yours, particularly if you're a female (sorry guys, but it still happens and needs to be mentioned). You may have been brought up to be loving, kind, nurturing, and always putting the needs of others before yours; being told to take a "backseat" and let others shine. In this instance, you activated archetypal behavioral patterns of the "fixer" and "pleaser" to gain power and ensure your survival. Unfortunately, over time, continuously giving your power away can have a negative impact on your self-esteem, mental health, and family life!
As you can see, power archetypes are patterns of behavior that were activated in early childhood to give you power, which ensured your survival.
Power archetypes are patterns of behavior that are unconscious and habitual; they control the power dynamics in your relationships until they become conscious. When you are aware of the patterns, it becomes a "choice" when you use them—it is no longer a habit.
You cannot change what you don't know!
Understand Power and Why You Compete?
What does power mean to you in your relationship? Do you feel comfortable or uneasy when the word "power" is mentioned? What is your view of powerful people? What makes a person powerful and how do you feel powerful?
What power does your partner have that you don't? For example, do they have a better education and remind you of your "failings"? Or, do they earn more money than you and you feel indebted towards them because of this? Do they make most (if not all) of the decisions in the relationship because they earn more money?
On the other hand, what power do you have over your partner? For instance, do you withhold sex from them and only "allow" a sexual connection when your partner has done what you've asked?
Maybe there is a power imbalance in your relationship due to your gender; your partner believes he is superior because you are a woman. Whatever the imbalance is, in these "types" of relationships, you may feel disempowered and drained.
If this is the case in your relationship, you're influenced by "power distance." Power distance is the way people believe (and accept) uneven power. There isn't power equality and the person with low power (believes they are the less powerful one in the relationship) accepts the informal power (perceived high power) of their partner, and the power dynamics affect the connection between the two of you in the relationship.
When there is an imbalance of power in a relationship, all things are not equal (one partner has power over the other); distributed unequally. For instance, your partner is the provider and you are financially reliant on them, you perceive your partner to have power over you. Again, this affects the power dynamics in your relationship.
So why do you feel the need to compete for power in relationships, particularly with loved ones?
What are the power dynamics in your relationship? Wouldn't it be great if you were in a relationship where there is shared power between you and your partner?
A relationship coach, Adam Maynard says that we need to have balance of power in our relationship, where we feel there is mutual respect so you feel empowered to make a contribution towards important decisions that involve the two of you. Maynard says a power imbalance impacts on a partner's behavior.
The following are examples of ways you may find your relationship draining and disempowering. They maybe a red flag in your relationship:
- An angry partner
- A grumpy partner
- You or your partner resenting the other
- You fear to lose your partner
- Your partner talks to you disrespectfully and you feel shame
- You are skeptical that your partner loves you
- Your partner is a "victim"
- Your partner is demanding and controlling
- Your partner is withdrawn and shows little or no attention or support
- You get little or no emotional support
- Your partner is jealous, insecure, smothering, and won't stop fussing
- Your partner won't stop hounding you and is always on your back to do things around the house
- Your partner is clingy and doesn't like you having time out with friends
- Your partner is critical and blaming
All of the above (and more) can influence the power dynamics in your relationship, cause confusion, fear, anxiety, overwhelm, difficulties to make decisions, issues of trust, which results in your loss of energy and power. Consequently, you step into your dominant power archetypal pattern to compete for power with your partner.
A romantic relationship where there is an underlying issue of unhealthy power, couples argue more often than others to compete for power to try and achieve power balance with their partner.
What Pattern do You Use to Compete for Power in Your Relationship?
Do you withdraw or withhold something; for example, sex, information, or affection?
Do you control and command; for instance, expect your partner to have dinner on the table at a certain time?
Maybe you're the fixer and expect something in return; for instance, support your partner without them asking and expect love or sex in return?
Do you get in your partner's personal space to make them respond because they can't ignore you?
Or maybe you "dim your light" and expect others to do things for you; for instance, do not attempt to do something such as putting up a shelf, and rely/expect your partner to do it for you?
Whatever tactic or pattern you use to compete for power in your relationship, it is perfectly normal! They are there to help you navigate your way around your feelings.
Your tactics are archetypal patterns to help you navigate your way around your feelings. For instance, if your dominant power archetypal pattern is the "Needy Nag," and you feel despondent about your relationship, you may feel that your partner does not love you because he does not do what you want.
To feel better, you seek reassurance that your partner loves you. As the Needy Nag, you keep hassling your partner to do the things he promised to do around the house. After all, if he loved you, he would do the chores, right?
Your partner doing something for you to show they love you is "conditional" with strings attached; that is not love.
Some people use more than one archetypal pattern to compete for power, depending on the power dynamics at the time and your partner's response to you. However, you have a "dominant" power archetype that you depend on; that you know works from previous experiences.
Are you ready to take the 3-minute quiz and discover your dominant power archetype to change the power dynamics in your relationship?
Why not get your partner to take the quiz too and reveal their dominant power archetype? You will gain an even deeper understanding of the dynamics in your relationship!
If you are ready, just click here to start the quiz or on the button below!
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If you want to understand more about power dynamics in your relationships, check out my book "Female Power Archetypes" on Amazon by clicking the link below!
Female Power Archetypes
Whether you realize it or not, there’s a story that governs your relationships. There are unconscious patterns, stories, and programs that shape your behavior in our relationships. To recognize and change these behaviors you need to know how power archetypes are at work in your relationships.
You have a dominant power archetype that determines how you react in times of need, and being overwhelmed, stressed, and afraid. By learning your dominant power archetype you can uncover the heart of the conflict in your relationships and move into a place of confidence, balance, and happiness.
If you would like to know more about the power dynamics in your relationship, check out my book, Female Power Archetypes, on Amazon.
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